The Council Corner is a monthly newsletter in which our elected officials communicate news and events to residents in an effort to ensure a well informed community. Village staff also provide updates and information regarding all municipal services via the newsletter.
Ralph M. (Monty) Powers
Each month either a city department head or councilman from Jonesville submits an article for Council Corner. Having known Monty Powers for years through the church, at Powers Clothing, and also on the tennis court (Monty was the first person I played tennis with when I moved here in 1969), I decided that Jonesville should know more about one of its life-long leading citizens.
An author, educator, civic organizer, community leader, humanitarian, historian, business leader and decorated World War II pilot are a few of the words used to describe Powers.
Monty was born in Jonesville in 1923 and has resided here for his entire life. He graduated from Jonesville High School, received a Bachelor’s degree from Albion College, a Master’s degree from the University of Michigan, and later returned to Albion College as a professor of mathematics. After graduating from Albion, he voluntarily enlisted in the Air Force and trained to be a pilot at Williams Field in Arizona. He completed this training and was deployed to Naples, Italy. He piloted P-38 Lightnings. Monty escorted B-17s on their bombing missions, bombed enemy munitions factories, oilfield storage facilities, and also bombed trains transporting enemy ordinance. They also bombed bridges used by the enemy to transport supplies. Monty was in the European Theater, but in the Pacific Theater of operations, it was a squadron of P-38 Lightnings that successfully shot down the plane carrying Japanese Admiral Yamamoto, a coveted target of the allies. Yamamoto and others helped orchestrate the attack on Pearl Harbor. As a member of the 82nd Airborne, Monty flew 26 missions. For every 5 missions flown they were awarded an air medal. Several members of Monty’s squadron still survive.
The word “service” really describes Monty. He was a volunteer fireman for over 50 years, served as a Boy Scout Master for over 20 years, and served on what was then the Jonesville Village Council, now the Jonesville City Council. Monty was also very involved helping get property tax millages passed for Williams Elementary School and the old High School.
Monty is a known historian for Jonesville and Hillsdale County. He spent a considerable amount of time collecting information about Jonesville’s development. He authored a book entitled “Benaiah Jones American Frontiersman” in 1980, and did a 2nd publication of this book in 2003. Monty interviewed many people to compile this book and traveled as far away as Texas with his first wife, Betty, to gather information.
Monty was chairman of Jonesville’s very successful Sesquicentennial celebration. He was also a volunteer groundskeeper for many years at the Jonesville Presbyterian Church and the Jonesville District Library.
In the late 1960’s, Hillsdale County was in danger of losing the Red Cross blood drive, as the number of donors was on a decline. Monty became the chairman of the Hillsdale County Red Cross. Through his efforts contacting service organizations, schools, factories, and many other groups, Monty was able to get well over 200 donors. The program still survives, and Monty has personally donated over 20 gallons of blood.
He spent many years as co-owner of Powers Clothing with Ray and David Pope. Monty’s grandfather David Powers started the store. His father Ralph took over, then Monty, and now Monty’s son, Paul, has co-ownership with David Pope. The store is in its 4th generation of a Powers owning the store. Powers clothing is now the only clothing store in Hillsdale County where you can actually have a suit measured and tailor-made.
I would like to thank Monty and David Pope for assisting me with the information that I have gathered on one of Jonesville’s most interesting citizens.
Jonesville City Councilman